Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Pentecost 2017

Over the years, I have commented on Pentecost or Whitsun week in a variety of ways. The readings and liturgical resources from the Prayer Book are rich. All remind us of the special work of God the Holy Spirit that began among the disciples fifty days after Christ's Resurrection and ten days after His Ascension. This year, I would like to focus on the work of the Holy Spirit by juxtaposing two contrasting passages from the Gospel of John.

The first verse is John 3:8 -"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” These words of our Lord stress the mystery and the freedom associated with the work of God the Holy Spirit. It is not tangible and not always predictable. It goes beyond our normal human categories and expectations.

The other passage is John 16:13-14 - "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (ESV). These words of our Lord emphasize the truth and continuity of divine revelation. Although Pentecost marks a new phase in the work of God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit continues the work of God the Son, Jesus Christ. Despite the mystery and sometimes unexpected details, the truth is the same. The Spirit is free but orderly and not chaotic. If we want to understand the Holy Spirit's work in the Church and in our lives, we must always relate it to those things revealed in the life and work of Jesus Christ.
Thus, we Christians need balance in our responses to the work of the Holy Spirit. We need to be open to some new and surprising applications, but we also need to maintain a sense of continuity. There are three divine Persons but only one God and one divine revelation.